A report into the state of the world´s natural resources has just been launched at the Royal Society in London. The report is backed by 1,360 scientists from 95 countries (many of whom are world leaders in their field) and comes to some terrifying (but not surprising) conclusions.
Essentially, we are using up natural resources quicker than the earth can replenish them, so that "Human activity is putting such a strain on the natural functions of Earth that the ability of the planet´s ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted."
More land has been claimed for agriculture in the last 60 years than in the 18th and 19th centuries combined. Now, 24% of the Earth´s land surface is cultivated. We use between 40% and 50% of all available freshwater running off the land. As a result, rivers such as the Yellow River (China), the Nile (Africa) and the Colorado (North America) frequently dry up before they reach the ocean!
A quarter of all fish stocks are over-harvested to the extent that in some areas the catch is now less than 1% of the pre-industrial catch, and massive deforestation has increased the risks of malaria and cholera and increased the number of areas considered to be at a high risk of either disease.
As a result of our greed, 90% of the ocean's large predators (particularly tuna, swordfish and shark) have disappeared in the last few years and 12% of bird species, 25% of mammals and more than 30% of all amphibians are threatened with extinction within the next century. Since the 80's alone, 35% of mangroves and 20% of the world's coral reefs have been destroyed.
As if that is not enough, we have threatened many species by introducing "aliens" to their ecosystem. For example, 100 creatures from other parts of the world now live in the Baltic Sea. A third of them came from the Great Lakes of America!